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RAO BULLETIN

1 July 2011


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THIS BULLETIN CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES

== Tricare Young Adult Program [05] ------ (Modest Response)



== Vet Toxic Exposure ~ Lejeune [22] ------- (Erin Brockovich)

== Military Records/DD-214 [03] --------------- (60-Year Delay)

== Flag Presentation [07] ----------------- (HOA Flagpole Policy)

== Filipino Vet Inequities [20] --------- (Denied FVECF Claims)

== VA Appeals [09] ----------------------------------- (Steps to File)

== Cell-Phone Radiation Scams ------------------- (FTC warning)

== Depression [01] ----------------------- (Over 11% of 65+ Vets)

== Wall That Heals [01] --------------------------- (Soledad, Calif)

== King Veteran Memorial -------------------------- (Flag Dispute)

== SecDef -------------------------------------------------- (Overview)

== SecDef [01] ----------------- (Retrospective: Robert M. Gates)

== Mobilized Reserve 21 JUN 2011------------- (1511 Decrease)

== WWII Vets [03] ----------------------------- (James Downey Jr)

== PTSD [72] ----------------------- (Free Couples PTSD Retreat)

== Military Retirement System [03] -------- (Secretaries Concur)

== Mil Funeral Disorderly Conduct [22] --- (NY Saratoga Cnty)

== Veteran Charities [18] ------------------ (USNVA Prosecution)

== Tricare User Fees [70] -------------------- (USDR Action Alert)

== FERS [01] ------------------------- (USPS Suspends Payments)

== Florida Vet Legislation [02] -------------------- (4 Bills Signed)

== VA Fraud Waste & Abuse [35] ------------------ (Nancy Cook)

== VA Fraud Waste & Abuse [36] -------------- (16-30 Jun 2011)

== Hypertension [05] --------------- (Frequency of Measurement)

== VAMC West Los Angeles [03] ------------------ (Master Plan)

== VAMC West Haven CT ------------------ (Lawsuit Settlement)

== Blue Angels ------------------------------------- (Shows Resume)

== Arlington National Cemetery [25] ----- (Call Center/Records)

== Tricare Pharmacy Policy [06] ----------- (Walgreens Opts Out)

== Tricare Overseas Program [10] -------------(Medicare Sign-up)

== National Museum of the U.S. Army ------------ (Site Selected)

== IRS FBAR [02] ----------------------------------- (Did You File?)

== Identity Theft [11] ------------------------------- (Deceased Vets)

== Pentagon Papers --------------------- (Advise to Whistleblowers)

== COLA 2012 [02] --------------------------- (May CPI Up 0.05%)

== Medicare Reimbursement Rates 2012 [01] -- (Budget Priority)

== Distinguished Service Cross ------------------ (Latest Recipient)

== PTSD [71] ------------------------------------ (The Healing Tonic)

== VA Service Dogs [03] -------------------------------- (Fido Rules)

== Agent Orange Korea [04] ------------------------- (Camp Carroll)

== VA Budget 2012 [03] ----------------- ($1.4B Increase Request)

== Stolen Valor [41] ------------------------------ (Warren K. Parker)

== Vet Jobs [30] ---------------------------- (Government Hiring Up)

== Flag Legislation [03] --------------------------- (HJR13 & SJR19)

== Credit Card Charges [07] ------------------------- (Penalty Rates)

== VA Blue Water Claims [16] ----------------- (Debate Continues)

== VA Blue Water Claims [17] ---------- (Updated AO ship’s List)

== VA Sexual Assaults [01] ----------------------- (Opposing Views)

== VA Sexual Assaults [02] ----------------------- (16-30 Jun 2011)

== Tricare Retirement Benefits ----------------------------- (Options)

== Social Security Overpayments ------------- (IG Report on 2009)

== Retiree Appreciation Days [08] ------------------- (Updated List)

== Vet Deaths ---------------------------------- (2010 = 1373 per day)

== Saving Money -------------------------------- (Car Insurance Tips)

== Notes of Interest --------------------------------- (15-30 Jun 2011)


== Medicare Fraud [70] ---------------------------- (15-30 Jun 2011)


== Medicad Fraud [42] ------------------------------ (15-30 Jun 2011)

== State Veteran's Benefits -------------------------------- (Montana)

== Military History --------------------------------- (Shadow Warriors)

== Military History Anniversaries ------------- (Jul 1-15 Summary)

== Military Trivia 30 ------------------------------- (Vietnam Ap Bia)

== Tax Burden for Colorado Retirees ------------ (As of JUN 2011)

== Veteran Legislation Status 28 JUN 2011----- (Where we stand)

==Veteran Hearing/Mark-up Schedule ------------- (1-31 Jul 2011)

== Have You Heard? ------------------------------ (Military Humor 1)

Attachment - Veteran Legislation

Attachment - Montana State Veteran's Benefits

Attachment - Shadow Warriors

Attachment - SecDef Gates Retrospective

Attachment - AO Exposed Ship List May 2011


** Denotes Military Times Copyrighted Material
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Tricare Young Adult Program Update 05: Despite all of the political turmoil which surrounded health care reform last year, it turns out that according to a survey by a leading online health insurance broker, that less than half of the parents who were surveyed, said they would be willing to provide their college graduates with coverage on the family’s health insurance plan until age 26.The survey indicated that most parents “are ready to let their young adults take responsibility” said the survey authors. Insurance.com which sponsored this survey of 1,000 parents, college students and recent graduates completed this in April. In addition, Aetna and Medical Mutual – two of the largest Mid-Western region’s insurers report that while they have added 19-26 year olds to their parents plans, the demand has not been “overwhelming”. Even despite the fact that most of the civilian health plans do not charge high rates for adding an extra child or two. The survey also noted that college students and recent graduates may have more original ideas on how to obtain health insurance without spending too much. For instance, Question no. 9 on the survey hints that insurance can be sexy: "If you were already attracted to a date or potential significant other and then found out that he or she had health insurance, would you be more likely to be…?" Ninety-three percent of graduates responded that they would be "more attracted".
So far in the Department of Defense’s TRICARE Young Adult insurance coverage program, there also has been modest enrollment to date with good satisfaction. A few points to remember about the plan are the individual to be covered must be:

  • A dependent of an eligible uniformed service sponsor.

  • Unmarried

  • At least age 21 (or age 23 if enrolled in a full-time course of study at an approved institution of higher learning and if the sponsor provides at least 50 percent of the financial support), but have not yet reached age 26.

  • Not eligible to enroll in an employer-sponsored health plan offered by your own employer.

  • Not otherwise eligible for any other TRICARE program coverage.

  • A holder of a uniformed services identification card. After enrolling in the program, the sponsor will need to visit a uniformed services identification card issuing facility to obtain an ID card for the young adult.

[Source: http://www.moaablogs.org/healthcare/category/benefits Kathryn M. Beasley article 23 Jun 2011 ++]
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Vet Toxic Exposure ~ Lejeune Update 22: Well-known environmental advocate Erin Brockovich is wading into the Camp Lejeune contaminated water issue. Brockovich — who became a household name 11 years ago when Julia Roberts portrayed her in a film about the fight against a California company that polluted a city’s water supply — has joined 22 national and state organizations in support of a bill (S.277) would make it easier for veterans and their families affected by contaminated water aboard base to receive medical assistance. Brockovich also recently told reporters at a Wilmington meeting on advocacy issues that Camp Lejeune veterans have asked for her help.“We need to look at what happened at Camp Lejeune, the ground water contamination,” she said. “Who’s been affected, find them all and make sure that we do everything possible to make their future a little bit brighter.”
Pollution at Camp Lejeune is the largest documented Defense Department environmental contamination incident on record. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least 500,000 people may have been exposed in the 30-year period from 1957 to 1987 to a host of toxic chemicals, including known human carcinogens benzene and vinyl chloride, as well as drying cleaning solvents and degreasers. A letter from Environmental Working Group was sent late last week to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in support of the “Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2011” introduced by North Carolina’s two senators, Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan. The bill would provide health care for service members and families who drank, bathed and cooked with water contaminated with toxic and carcinogenic chemicals while stationed or living aboard the base. “The environmental and public interest communities are calling on our leaders in Congress to come to the aid of these brave Americans, who are still waiting for justice and for the answers they deserve,” said Heather White, EWG chief of staff and general counsel. Military veterans and families with health problems they believe may be linked to toxic chemical exposure at Lejeune are not being afforded adequate health benefits, White said, adding that hundreds of veterans have filed claims for disability compensation through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs but only a handful of the applications have been approved.
Brockovich also sat on a panel earlier this year that urged a Senate committee to conduct an investigation into a male breast cancer cluster surrounding Camp Lejeune. Her involvement is not the first time the Camp Lejeune water contamination issue has been linked to Hollywood. According to emails obtained by The Daily News, military officials sought to delay releasing information about the bad water at Camp Lejeune in 1998 so as not to coincide with the release of the John Travolta film “A Civil Action,” which depicted a legal battle over the pollution of drinking water in Woburn, Mass. Camp Lejeune water contamination is also the focus of the award-winning documentary “Semper Fi: Always Faithful,” which has been screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and shown to members of Congress. The documentary details the quest of retired Marine Jerry Ensminger of Richlands who is searching for answers from the government in the wake of his young daughter’s death due to leukemia he believes was caused by toxic drinking water aboard Camp Lejeune. Ensminger also signed the EWG letter, which has been posted online at http://richmedia.onset.freedom.com/jdn/lnh263-lejeuneletter.pdf. [Source: Dailey News Lindell Kay article 29 Jun 2011 ++]
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Military Records/DD-214 Update 03: Kiel Wisconsin resident Don Schneider spent decades hoping, praying, and fighting to obtain his discharge records from the Department of Defense who would not acknowledge his service in the Korean War. Schneider said to reporters that he remembers it like it was yesterday. "This is Sniper Ridge over here. This is all Chinese back here," he said, referring to his photo album. Drafted out of high school, Schneider entered the war as an Army Ranger in 1952. He spent 14 months in heavy combat. "Got shot at from the time I got there until the day I left." One night during the war, the Chinese ambushed Schneider's squad. Of the 12 soldiers, only Schneider and one other made it out alive. "Mortar round came in and landed right inside the pit, and all that was, pieces of bodies, they're gone." What Schneider didn't realize at the time is that his service records disappeared when the Chinese overran his unit's headquarters.
In June 1953, the Army sent him home with 100 dollars and a train ticket to Chicago. Since he had eight years of active reserve to fulfill, he didn't worry about discharge papers. "And when the eight years were up I thought, well, I should get a discharge, so I'll go down to Milwaukee to the veterans outfit down there. They said, “We don't have any records that you were in service.” OK, so that's the way it went. And on and on it went. He said, “My daughter, before she died, worked on it for almost 30 years trying to get it. She wrote to all kinds of Congressmen, you name it, senators, whatever. Thirty years she worked on it and no dice." Schneider even drove to the Veterans Administration Office in St. Louis, showing his pictures and letters he wrote to his wife. "I had written her that I was in a MASH hospital in South Korea and that didn't mean nothing." "They always said, 'Well, why don't you contact somebody you were in service with?' Well, there's only two of us out my squad that came home, the rest were killed, so there was nobody I could talk to."
Finally this spring a friend sent a registered letter to President Obama's office. In early JUN, Don Schneider, now 81 years old, received an honorable discharge, 58 years after last firing his weapon. "I tell you, it didn't really register, I think, three or four days before it really sunk in that I was discharged, that I finally got it, so it was a good feeling." Because his records were lost, Schneider was never paid for his two years of service. "I figured 13 cents an hour at that time, 24 hours a day, Uncle Sam owes me between $68-70,000 which I'm never going to see. You know that, but that's the way I got it figured." But at this point in his life he says he's going to let that one go. He's just finally happy to have his discharge papers. [Source: ABC Green Bay WI WBAY-2 Jeff Alexander article 23 Jun 2011 ++]


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Flag Presentation Update 07: In Ohio a retired Army lieutenant colonel is in a skirmish with his homeowners' association (HOA) over the 14-foot flagpole he installed in his front yard. Other veterans are siding with 77-year-old Fred Quigley, who served in Vietnam. An American Legion post held a flag-raising ceremony 22 JUN at Quigley's home in Macedonia, 15 miles southeast of Cleveland. Neighborhood developer Joseph Migliorini says Quigley is breaking a homeowners' association rule that doesn't allow flagpoles but says flags may be flown from a holder on the front of a home. He contends "it wouldn't look good" if all the residents put flagpoles in their small front yards. He's offering to install flagpoles at the development's entrances. Quigley maintains his flagpole is a matter of free speech.
A similar altercation occurred in Richmond Virginia in DEC 2009 when the Sussex Square HOA threatened to take a 90-year old MOH holder (Col. Van T. Barfoot) to court if he did not remove his flag. Upon learning of the controversy Democratic Senators Warner and Webb agreed that his service entitled him to display the flag in any manner he wanted and championed the vet’s cause. Ultimately, the HOA agreed to stop their legal action against Van T. Barfoot. The retired Army Colonel is now free to fly the Flag in his front yard. [Source: Akron Beacon Journal Ed Suba Jr. article 23 Jun 2011 ++]


Fred Quigley's flagpole
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Filipino Vet Inequities Update 20: Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has asked the US Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to reconsider the cases of Filipino World War II (WWII) veterans who were denied benefits under a recently passed US law. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila said Del Rosario made the appeal during a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in Washington, D.C. in JUN. “Secretary Del Rosario urged the DVA to reconsider the cases of certain veterans denied benefits under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (FVECF). [The fund] requires that the name of a veteran, to be eligible for benefits, appear in both the roster of troops prepared by the US Army after the war and the individual folders of veterans containing their discharge papers (AGO Form 23),” the DFA said in a statement. The fund, approved in February 2009, authorized the release of a one-time lump-sum payment to eligible WWII veterans from the Philippines. The payments were to be made through the DVA from a $198 million (about P8.6 billion) appropriation. Del Rosario also asked Shinseki to continue US government support for the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. For his part, Shinseki committed to look at a fair procedure with regard to the required documentation of WWII veterans. He also conveyed to Del Rosario the DVA’s continuing support for the Philippine hospital, the latest in the form of a two-year program that would upgrade the medical center’s technical and diagnostic capabilities. “We have a special obligation, a special responsibility to the young men and women who fought during the war,” Shinseki was quoted as saying by the DFA. [Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer Jerome Aning article 27 Jun 2011 ++]
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Depression Update 01: According to the VA’s National Registry for Depression, 11% of Veterans aged 65 years and older have a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, a rate more than twice that found in the general population of adults aged 65 and older. The actual rate of depression among older Veterans may be even higher, since not all Veterans with depression receive a diagnosis from their health care provider. Recognizing and diagnosing depression in late life can be challenging, according to Dr. Rebecca Crabb, a postdoctoral fellow in clinical psychology at the VA Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) in Palo Alto. “Physical, mental and cognitive health are all closely linked in late life,” she notes. “Older adults don’t necessarily experience sadness when they are depressed. Instead, an older person may report problems with their memory or unexplained pain or fatigue. Other signs are anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, and irritability.” One of the most serious consequences of depression is suicide. Although younger Veterans (age 18-44) with depression are at the greatest risk of suicide, Veterans 65 and older are also at high risk compared to middle-aged (45-64) Veterans. Other serious consequences include increased risk for medical problems, cognitive decline and dementia, and mortality. Depression and dementia in older adults can look similar.
Depression in late life may be brought on by losses or serious challenges such as the death of a spouse, family member, or pet, medical problems, disability, or even retirement. A Veteran who has worked all his or her life may have trouble coping with the lack of “something to do” every day, may experience financial strain, or become isolated from others. Various medical conditions such as diabetes and stroke can have effects on blood flow to the brain, and can make older Veterans particularly vulnerable to developing depression. There also appears to be a genetic component: an older person who has been depressed in the past, or who has a family member who has been depressed, is more likely to develop depression. Recent research shows that nearly 40% of Veterans age 60 and over in treatment for depression have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. “We are only beginning to understand how previous traumatic experiences, in the military or otherwise, affect mental health in later life, but it is clear that it is important to ask older Veterans about trauma,” Dr. Crabb notes.
Dementia, another severe health problem that can occur in late life, appears to influence depression and vice versa. Dr. Crabb points out that depression can be a psychological reaction to dementia. “Older Veterans get frustrated with their memory problems. It can also be hard to adjust to having to stop doing valued activities, like driving.” There are also physiological connections between depression and dementia. Parkinson’s Disease or the after effects of a stroke, for example, can affect brain tissue and blood flow to the brain in ways that may cause both depression and dementia. According to Dr. Crabb, “In their early stages, depression and dementia in older adults can look similar. Many older Veterans with depression complain of memory difficulties. This is why it’s so important to get a thorough assessment from your health care provider if you are experiencing changes in either your mood or your memory.”
Says Dr. Crabb, “We have to look at what works for treatment of late-late depression. Generally, the same antidepressant medications that are effective in younger adults are effective in older adults. They may be less effective for older Veterans who also have cognitive impairment. “The same applies to psychotherapy, which is also effective for older adults. We use present and past focused exercises to help older Veterans with depression regain a sense of hope, purpose, and meaning. Veterans are supported in solving problems and getting re-engaged in meaningful activities, whether that means volunteering, physical exercise, or spending time with loved ones. We use life review exercises to encourage Veterans to reminiscence about life experiences and discuss how they have overcome past challenges. This helps them to “mobilize” some of their life-long strengths.” Often, adaptations are necessary to effectively treat late life depression in the context of dementia or cognitive impairment.
As Dr. Crabb explains, “Caregivers should be involved whenever possible. It helps to increase the Veteran’s involvement in pleasant activities that utilize their strengths and to give them manageable responsibilities, for example, tending to specific tasks in the home or garden.” Although late-life depression is a common and treatable problem, Dr. Crabb said many older Veterans are reluctant to seek care. One study showed that up to two-thirds of older Veterans discontinue antidepressant medications. There is the stigma of seeking help for a mental health problem and the belief that they should be able to handle the problem on their own. “Older Veterans are used to solving their own problems and can find it hard to accept help. It’s important for them to feel that their health care provider respects their life experience.” Dr. Crabb points out that the VA has been working hard to help make depression treatment more accessible and acceptable for older Veterans. For example, Primary Care Behavioral Health teams allow Veterans to receive assessment and short-term treatment for depression without having to leave the primary care setting. “Getting a check up on your mood is just another part of staying healthy. Many times, older Veterans prefer to get treatment for depression in primary care rather than a mental health clinic and the VA has listened to that.”
Late life depression can have devastating consequences and is an important and common health problem for older Veterans. Veterans or family members who recognize any of the symptoms in this story should see their VA health provider. They can also call the Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 for confidential help. The Veterans Crisis Line is staffed by caring VA responders, many who are Veterans themselves. Each responder understands the unique Veteran experience and is trained to handle any crisis. Veterans who are having thoughts of suicide should press 1 to be transferred to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline. Further information on late life depression is available at http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml and http://nihseniorhealth.gov/depression/toc.html. [Source: Veterans Today article 24 Jun 2011 ]
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